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Monday, April 9, 2012

Written Testimony - Closure of Tamms Correctional Center

March 27, 2012

Senator Jeffrey Schoenberg

Representative Patricia Bellock


Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability

703 Stratton Office Building

Springfield, IL 62706

Re:       Written Testimony- Closure of Tamms Correctional Center

Dear Senator Schoenberg and Representative Bellock,

Please accept this communication as my submission of written testimony on the above referenced closure which will be heard by the Commission on April 2, 2012. The proposed closure of Tamms Correctional Center is of great concern to Laborers’ International Union of North America, Local 2002, Illinois State Employees Association and the Union members, employees at the facility who will be laid off or transferred as well as the employees at other institutions where the population of Tamms will be absorbed.

It is on behalf of all of the affected employees at Tamms Correctional Center that we urge this Commission not to support the closure of this facility. Tamms was built with a specific need in mind- to house inmates that provided a serious safety issue to the employees and inmates at other correctional facilities. To every end possible, Tamms is fully accomplishing its intended purpose. Tamms is a place to send the most dangerous of inmates- inmates who posed risks to other inmates and employees at other institutions. No other facility has the means to accomplish the same level of security that Tamms was specifically assigned to These inmates are responsible for destruction of State property, injuries and deaths to other inmates, and injuries to employees working within other institutions. Tamms is the only Super-Max facility in the State. Besides housing the most dangerous of inmates it is also an effective deterrent for other inmates across the State. The very threat of being removed to Tamms has the ability to deter dangerous behavior from other inmates. When those threats are ineffective then Tamms becomes the institution that provides the relief of safety issues for other institutions.

By closing Tamms Correctional Center, the State will not only be removing the most effective deterrent to attacks and destruction of property in other institutions, but it will also be releasing the most deadly and formidable inmates back into those institutions. These inmates will be released back into inmate populations where they have already proven their capacity for menace and destruction. The safety of other inmates and especially for the employees that are charged with the duty of daily dealings with the inmates will be in great peril due to the lack of deterrent and the addition of these deadly inmates into the population. The inmates who were previously on death row are housed at Tamms.

Tamms is also located in an already severely economically depressed area. By closing this facility the State would be slashing approximately 300 jobs resulting in an uprising of unemployment in an area where jobs are already scarce. In such a time as this it is critical that employers such as the State find other ways to cut costs, not by cutting jobs. It is vital to this State that jobs are saved, not eradicated.

Former Government officials, former Agency officials, and politicians have spoken out against the closure of Tamms as well. They are right. The closure of Tamms would be detrimental to the community in Southern Illinois, the employees and inmates across the State of Illinois and the State itself.

Tamms Correctional Center is vital to the employees across the State whose daily safety is at risk when such abhorrent and heinous criminals are amongst their institutional populations- just ask the employees who were there before Tamms was built. It is imperative that this Commission think first of the safety of the employees and the inmates across the State of Illinois. We implore you on behalf of the employees across the State not to support the closure of Tamms Correctional Center.


Steve Ruiz

President, LIUNA, Local 2002, ISEA

Cc:          COGFA Members

                Dan Long, Executive Director, COGFA

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